How to Write and Sing the Blues

1. Most Blues begin, “Woke up this morning.”

2. “I got a good woman” is a bad way to begin the Blues, ’less you stick something nasty in the next line, like “I got a good woman, with the meanest face in town.”

3. The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes… sort of: “Got a good woman, with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher and she weigh 500 pound.”

4. The Blues are not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, ain’t no way out.

5. Blues cars are Chevys, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don’t travel in Volvos, BMWs or SUVs. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft and state-sponsored motor pools ain’t even in the running. Walkin’ plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin’ to die.

6. Teenagers can’t sing the Blues. They ain’t fixin’ to die yet. Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, “adulthood” means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.

7. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or any place in Canada. Hard times in St. Paul or Tucson is just depression. Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City are still the best places to have the Blues. You cannot have the blues in any place that don’t get rain.

8. A man with male pattern baldness ain’t the blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg cuz you skiing is not the blues. Breaking your leg cuz an alligator be chomping on it is.

9. You can’t have no Blues in an office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster.

10. Good places for the Blues:

  • highway
  • jailhouse
  • empty bed
  • bottom of a whisky glass

(Suggest other places for the Blues in the comment section at the end of the post for all these lists.)

Bad places:

  • Ashrams
  • gallery openings
  • the library
  • golf courses

11. No one will believe it’s the Blues if you wear a suit, ’less you happen to be old and you slept in it.

12. Do you have the right to sing the Blues? Yes, if:

  • you’re older than dirt
  • you’re blind
  • you shot a man in Memphis
  • you can’t be satisfied

No, if:

  • you have all your teeth
  • you were once blind but now can see
  • the man in Memphis lived
  • you have a trust fund.

13. Blues is not a matter of color. It’s a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the blues. Gary Coleman could. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the blues.

14. If you ask for water and Baby give you gasoline, it’s the Blues.

Other acceptable Blues drinks are:

  • bad wine
  • cheap bourbon
  • muddy water
  • black coffee

The following are NOT Blues drinks:

  • mixed drink
  • kosher wine
  • Snapple
  • sparkling water

15. A blues death is okay if it occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. So is the electric chair and dying lonely on a broken down cot. You can’t have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or getting liposuction.

16. Some Blues names for women:

  • Sadie
  • Big Mama
  • Bessie
  • Fat River Dumpling

17. Some Blues names for men:

  • Joe
  • Willie
  • Little Willie
  • Big Willie

18. Persons with names like Sierra, Sequoia, Auburn and Rainbow can’t sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

19. Make your own Blues name (starter kit):

  • name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.)
  • first name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Mellon, Kiwi, etc.)
  • last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.)

For example, Blind Lime Jefferson, or Cripple Kiwi Fillmore, etc. (Well, maybe not “Kiwi.”)

Now you can write a blues line or two and post it in the comments below. Who knows, we might get a chain-post going and have a real song on.

Attributed to Memphis Earlene Gray and posted by Mike Miller at the GreatStoryTeller.

Editor’s Note: Here is a great tutorial for how to write the blues. It was written by an amateur for ordinary folks. It looks like a lot of fun. Surprise everyone at your next family reunion or traveling buddies at Spring break.

Now you are ready for how Champion Jack Dupree talks about the blues and plays the blues.


About Author

Josh is an author, former blogger, media critic, x-Capitol Hill legislative aide and White House assistant, business consultant, idea marketing specialist, a squatter at the global village virtual bar and an alpine rock gardener where he lives in Woodstock, NY.